A Round-Up of News Articles from Inner City Press Reporter (A Must Follow)

Investigative journalist Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press has been known by many as the only trustworthy western journalist who reports right from the Security Council corridors with his black or white , non-biased articles.  He is now the only reliable source to learn exactly what is going on at the Security Council with regards to the latest drive for additional sanction on Eritrea. Thanks to him we already know that the Sanction threat is now dead on arrival. Kudos Matthew Russell Lee!

TO UN FOR SANCTION VOTE, ERITREAN ENVOY TELLS “NO ONE WILL COME” ON SHORT NOTICE

Eritrean president and his delegation couldn't come to address the Council in one day and half. So no one will come! - Amb. Desta

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, December 2 — “No one will come” from Asmara to the UN in New York on Monday, Eritrea’s Permanent Representative Araya Desta told Inner City Press after 5 pm on Friday.

After a Security Council fight resulting in an eleventh hour invitation to President Isaias Afwerki to address the Council on Monday just before new sanctions on Eritrea are slated to be voted on, throughout Friday afternoon there was discussion that the US hadn’t come through with visas.

But by 5 pm the US bragged that 11 visas were being granted, for pick up Saturday morning.

This put the ball back in Eritrea’s court. Three times Isaias Afwerki had asked to address the Council before it votes on further sanctions. The request was ignored until Gabon and the United States on November 29 pushed for a vote on sanctions the next day.

Facing opposition, it was agreed to invite not only Isaias Afwerki and but also leaders of Eritrea’s neighbors to address the Council Monday morning, then vote on Monday afternoon.

But as Desta told Inner City Press on Friday night, this schedule lacked due process. He said, “They [fouled] it up, I’m sorry to say it that way. That’s what Doctor Rice wants. No one is coming.”

Desta provided reasons of timing, and of due process, first calling it “short notice, we would have had to arrange a charter. You don’t ask a president to come within a day and a half.” Still he emphasized, “My President was ready to come.”

Then Desta pointed out that the sanctions resolution will already be “in blue” — what if Security Council members wanted to consult that capitals after hearing the morning’s speeches?

He said, “the Security Council should take time, the experts should meet and discuss on each and every paragraph. They don’t want to do that. There is no crisis in the region. So what is the reason they are bringing it in a rush? You wrote it yourself, they didn’t want to deal with the Russians.”

To many, the push on November 29 to haul off and vote on November 30, the last day of Portugal’s Council presidency, seemed strange. Desta said, “the way Doctor Rice has done was imposition, really outrageous.”

It does look like a strange compromise now. As one Council member mused to Inner City Press, “to put a head of state into a situation in which he speaks to the Council in the morning, and they adopt sanctions against his country in the afternoon, is a set-up for a no-show.”

Another suggested that the Council should have scheduled the President to speak as early in December as he could, and then hold the vote on another subsequent day. But that appears no longer here nor there. “No one will come,” Desta told Inner City Press.

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AS ERITREA SANCTION DELAYED TO MONDAY, RICE SAYS “GABON WAS FLEXIBLE”

Thanks to Amb. Li Baodong of China and Amb. Vitaly Churkin of Russia, the rush to slap Eritrea with sanction has been halted. They also insist President Isaias should come and address the Council before any vote, a move previously blocked by Amb. Susan Rat.

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, November 30, updated below — After a “highly charged” Security Council consultation on when and how to vote on Eritrea sanctions, US Ambassador Susan Rice [Rat] emerged Wednesday afternoon. She told Inner City Press exclusively, “I think the Gabonese were incredibly generous, to give all members time to get to instructions, I think going to Monday is the latest reasonable.”

The US and Gabon, which put the draft resolution “into blue” late Tuesday, had been pushing for a fast vote on Wednesday. But among others, Russia said that was too fast.

Chinese Permanent Representative Li Baodong, on his way into the consultations, told Inner City Press, “We reject any effort to push for action.” He added, “Let the President of Eritrea come to present his statement.”

Inner City Press asked Rice about Afwerki coming, which the US had put a block on. Now Rice said, “this was discussed formally for the first time today since it was first raised back at the end of October on the program of work. No member state until today, when we were talking about the timing of the vote, raised any interest in pushing the Isaias request.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Inner City Press asked Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin why no procedural vote had been called for after Ambassador Rice blocked granting Afkerki’s request to address the Council. Churkin explained, “if we were told a vote is going to take place a week from now, we will go for procedural vote… Maybe this is why they rushed into blue, not to let him come. I think it is a ridiculous thing.”

Rice said, “the United States as host country is obliged to issue a visa, so let’s see if he comes.” She reiterated her view that it is “redundant and likely counterproductive to have a spectacle in the Security Council in which heads of state make emotional statements on the eve of-on the same day as the vote.”

The outgoing Portuguese presidency told Inner City Press they are figuring out how to make the invitation. Eritrean representatives told Inner City Press it is a “short turn around time.” Given the stakes, one expected Afwerki to come — and others from the region.

There is a larger regional dynamic at issue: whether Jean Ping will get a second term as head of the African Union, or be replaced by for example Jacob Zuma of South Africa.

A representative of one of Eritrea’s neighbors came to complain to Inner City Press that “South Africa is pressuring us to vote for Zuma, and now it’s just sour grapes on their part. They need to decide if they are with the BRICS or with Africa.” Others would say it’s not either / or.

Inner City Press asked Rice to respond to what Eritrea’s UN Ambassador Araya Desta told it, that “It is crazy to penalize the Eritrean people in order to get a second term for Jean Ping as commissioner of the African Union… Meles [Zenawi] tells him, I’ll help you get a second term, if you helpput more sanctions on Eritrea.

Rice paused and called this “weird speculation… Jean Ping is running for a second term, South Africans have a candidate.”

Some wonder, how much of this is about the AU race?

Rice concluded that the vote will take place Monday and again, “the Gabonese were very flexible and generous.” And so it goes at the UN.

Here is the US Mission to the UN’s transcription:

Inner City Press: What about President Afwerki coming?

AMBASSADOR RICE: First of all, as you know, this was discussed formally for the first time today since it was first raised back at the end of October on the program of work. No member state until today, when we were talking about the timing of the vote, raised any interest in pushing the Isaias request . As you know, if a head of state chooses to come to the United Nations, the United States as host country is obliged to issue a visa, so let’s see if he comes.

Inner City Press: What about the other ones [i.e. other regional countries]?

AMBASSADOR RICE: Same for any of them. We still think it’s redundant and likely counterproductive to have a spectacle in the Security Council in which heads of state make emotional statements on the eve of-on the same day as the vote. But if that’s what they choose to do, it’ll happen, and we’ll vote on Monday.
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ON ERITREA SANCTIONS, CHINA “REJECTS PUSH FOR ACTION,” VOTE SWITCHED TO MONDAY?

By Matthew Russell Lee,

UNITED NATIONS, November 30 — While on Eritrea sanctions the US and Gabon continued pushing Wednesday afternoon for a vote later in the day, more opposition to the push became public.

Chinese Permanent Representative Li Baodong, on his way into the consultations, told Inner City Press, “We reject any effort to push for action.” He added, “Let the President of Eritrea come to present his statement.”

The request by Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea to “be given the audience to address the [UNSC] before any action is taken on the draft resolution” has been blocked by US Ambassador Susan Rice [Rat]. Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant about Afwerki speaking.

We have no objection,” Lyall Grant said. Inner City Press asked if the UK would call for a procedural vote, which would require a simple majority with no veto powers. Lyall Grant said no, “We’re not asking him to come, so there’s no reason for us to ask… If those who particularly want him to come, I expect they’d call for a vote.”

A number of Council members have told Inner City Press it would be a bad precedent to not grant the request of a head of state to address the Council, especially before sanctions. But who will call for that procedural vote? “It’s better it’s by consensus,” one member told Inner City Press. But what deal might make the US move?

Update of 3:50 pm — sources in the Council predict the vote pushed back “at least” to Monday, and President Afwerki being invited.

Meanwhile while it was said the US has on its side, among Council African members, not only Gabon but Nigeria, sources said that Nigeria either “wants more time” or “is flexible.” We’ll see.

The US cites the position of IGAD on Eritrea — at the same time IGAD is telling Kenya to allow Omar al Bashir, indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide in Sudan, to visit without being arrested. If the US cites IGAD favorably for one position, does it agree with this second IGAD position?

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ERITREA REPESENTATIVE SAYS ETHIOPIA OFFERS JEAN PING SECOND AU TERM HELP AS TRADE FOR HIS SANCTION SUPPORT

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, November 30 — Amid widespread questioning in the UN Security Council of the push to vote today on new Eritrea sanctions, with the US having blocked a request from Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki to talk to the Council, Gabon midday on Wednesday again said it would call for a vote later that day.

Sources tell Inner City Press that Russia has threatened to veto.

Inner City Press has obtained a copy of the November 29 letter to the Council from Eritrea’s UN Ambassador Araya Desta, and asked Desta about it. “It is the third letter,” Desta told Inner City Press.

The letter says, “It has come to my attention that the delebation of Gabon intends to table the draft resolution on Eritrea for action tomorrow… I appeal to your Excellency that H.E. Mr. Isaias Afwerki, President of the State of Eritrea, be given the audience to address the [UNSC] before any action is taken on the draft resolution.”

Desta speaking exclusively to Inner City Press went further: “What does Gabon know about Eritrea? Where it is? They don’t even know the location of Eritrea.” Significantly, larger African member of the Council South Africa is known to oppose voting on Wednesday on the proposed sanctions.

Desta told Inner City Press, “It is crazy to penalize the Eritrean people in order to get a second term for Jean Ping as commissioner of the African Union.” He mused, “maybe Meles [Zenawi] tells him, I’ll help you get a second term, if you help” me put more sanctions on Eritrea. [Editor’s Note: Jean Ping is a Gabonese national from Gabon, the primary sponsor of the sanction]

Inner City Press asked Desta why he thought the US was being so adamant. Desta said “my President has wrote two or three letters” to President Obama, “my foreign minister met with them.”

Some have alluded to the US “using” Ethiopia to fight Islamists in Somalia, first the Islamic Courts and now Al Shabaab, including it’s said from drone bases in Ethiopia.

To be less US-focused, Eritrea clearly has enemies among other neighbors: Djibouti, for example, often buzzes around the Security Council. But the idea that a head of state should on request be allowed to address the Security Council before such sanctions are voted on seems to be widely held.

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